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Combat - WWII

The Great Raid (2005)

Duration2h 12m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R, Spain: 13, 
Source of storyReal events which resulted in books by William B. Breuer and Hampton Sides.
DirectorJohn Dahl
Writers/ScriptCarlo Bernard, Doug Miro,
StarringBenjamin Bratt, James Franco, Sam Worthington, Joseph Fiennes, Connie Nielsen, Natalie Mendoza, 
RatingsIMDb: 6.7 by 21,000 people.  Rotten Tomatoes:38% based on 119 reviews.

Elevator Pitch: In the closing months of WWII the Americans have established a beach head in the Philippines, but the Japanese still hold the rest of the country. Behind the Japanese front line is a POW camp in which 500 US soldiers are incarcerated. They are supported to a minimal degree by civilians in Manila. The Americans have heard that a group of American prisoners have been burnt alive by the Japanese and so determine to send a group of Rangers behind the lines to rescue the 500 in the Cabanatuan camp. Despite extensive planning and support from Filipino irregulars can the task be carried out?

Content: There is no sex or nudity, or drinking or, surprisingly, no smoking except for the Colonel’s pipe. We see the prisoners being treated badly, with fairly graphic scenes of the  burning, the shooting of a number of nurses who are identified as helping the prisoners and the random execution of a number of prisoners as punishment for the escape of one.  The raid is planned mostly by the captain, so it seems. The Rangers make their way through the jungle, avoiding the Japanese on the move, and finally get to the camp where they must crawl for a mile or so. The attack takes place.

A View: While it is acknowledged that the actual raid was a courageous and patriotic event, the criticism is that the film was pretty boring, harking back to the sort of flag waving productions from the late 40s and early 50s. There seems to be little real character development except for the Japanese. We get to know them quite well, and what a terrible bunch they are. It is said that drama is life with the dull bits taken out. Here they decided to leave them in. So maybe have it on while doing something else.

Additional Info: The film ends with real footage of the rescued prisoners, possibly the best bit.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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